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More Serious Questions Raised Over Maori TV

6th May 2002

More Serious Questions Raised Over Maori Television

The Board of Maori Television must answer serious questions over the lack of transparency and due process involving millions of taxpayer dollars, says National's Broadcasting spokesperson Katherine Rich.

"There are five serious questions that the Board needs to clarify:

1. The Carbine Group has only been incorporated since March 8th 2002, so why did the Board select this brand new company to develop the studio and not an established one with experience in setting up television studios? What other companies (if any) were 'invited' to tender?

2. What was the date of the Board's "verbal agreement" to appoint The Carbine Group and why was a multi-million dollar taxpayer investment secured with only a verbal agreement? Was The Carbine Group set up specifically to service MTS and if so, why?

3. According to Haare Williams The Carbine Group has borrowed money to lease the $500,000 per annum viaduct site, and will be repaid by rent from the MTS. What organisation would lend money for this kind of deal, supported only by a "verbal agreement"? Banks usually run a mile from this sort of risk.

4. Why did Maori Television not investigate a local company's offer to lease an already established Auckland television studio and equipment at a fraction of the cost, instead of using a new studio with new equipment on some of the most expensive land in Auckland?

5. How transparent was the decision to appoint Sony to supply equipment to MTS, when Director Martin Cleave (although he withdrew from voting) is reported as having taken part in discussions regarding the Carbine Group's involvement, and studio developer Rob Verhoeven lists Sony as one of his personal clients on his company's website?

"As the story of Maori Television becomes increasingly tangled, the Board needs to come clean about the plans to date, the role of The Carbine Group and the leasing of the $5 million studio," said Ms Rich.

Ends

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